Thursday, September 15, 2011

SHOT IN TEXAS: Texan Nick Krause gets breakout role in film with Oscar buzz


Special to The Dallas Morning News
Twitter: @joemoconnell

It was a surreal moment for young Texan Nick Krause as he stepped on the red carpet for The Descendants during the Toronto International Film Festival last week.

Krause, 19, portrays Sid, a goofy beach bum friend to George Clooney’s on-screen daughter in the film. The Hawaii-set and -filmed tale of a father in crisis, directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways), is already getting Oscar buzz.

He was 17 when the film began a four-month Oahu shoot, so he brought along his agent, Denton native and University of North Texas grad Liz Lyons Atherton. She also happens to be his mother.

Atherton woke him at 5 a.m. to make an audition tape that led to a meeting with Payne. Krause figured the laid-back character Sid would be a Cheetos fan and gifted Payne with a small bag of them. He got the part.

“The audition process had taken months, and we weren’t sure if Nick was still even in the running,” Atherton said. “We set up a Hawaiian shrine by the phones, hoping the call would come. When it did, not only did we celebrate, I’m sure the neighbors are still talking about the screams.”

He’s not the only actor in the family. His sister, Kate Krause, played Tabby Garrity for three seasons on Austin-shot Friday Night Lights, and two older brothers dabbled in acting when they were young.

It marks a major leap for Nick Krause from small roles in films such as How to Eat Fried Worms. Atherton believes it was his involvement in Richard Linklater’s ongoing 12-year independent project, Boyhood, that piqued Payne’s interest.

On the set of The Descendants, Krause said, Clooney lived up to his jokester reputation, amusing film extras by using his cellphone to play the sound of gas being passed.

“He’s a very cool guy,” Krause said. “He’s super professional but down-to-earth. One minute he’s joking around with extras and hanging out with crew. Five minutes later, he’s in character and on time.”

Krause also scored a role in the Dallas-shot Good Christian Belles television pilot but was written out of the series when it moved to Los Angeles, where he is now living and riding this wave wherever it takes him.

“It’s really about sticking with it,” he said. “When you get turned down at your first audition, you just have to forget it and keep going.”

Atherton, who 15 years ago bought an existing Central Texas talent agency that counted her other sons as clients, worries that Krause will have a hard time furthering his career in Texas.

“I think we are at risk of losing film and TV as an integral part of our economic fabric: Plain and simple, our incentive program is not competitive enough,” she said. “I recently spoke at length with a high-profile producer friend of mine who is presently packaging his next film — a film centered on a Texas theme — and he will likely film in Louisiana. Why? Because it just makes more business sense.”

Film studios get haunted

Filming wrapped this month in North Texas on The Ghost of Goodnight Lane . The horror tale starring Billy Zane (Titanic) claims to be based on reality, in the tradition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The kicker is this new film is about ghosts purported to haunt Alin Bijan’s Media World Studios; most of the film was shot in the studios themselves. The studio’s ghosts have been said to move heavy equipment and once slapped someone’s face. Also in the cast are Lacey Chabert ( Mean Girls), Danielle Harris (Halloween), Matt Dallas (Kyle XY) and Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down). J.D. Sanders’ FTG Media Group served as executive producer on the film. Check out a production blog at

Joe O’Connell is an Austin-based freelance writer.

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